Sunday, 8 July 2007

Drunken Master (1978)

Chinese title: Drunken Fist (醉拳).

Drunken Master (1978)This movie is a classic among kungfu fans because of 2 people. The 1st person is so obvious that I won't name him. The other isn't obvious because he's behind the scene. The director Yuen Woo-Ping, who also behind many kungfu classics like "Iron Monkey", "Tai Chi Master". He also choreographed actions and stunts for movies like "Once upon a time in China" series, and Hollywood blockbusters from "Crouching Tiger", "The Matrix" to "Kill Bill" franchises. However, quite a few early YWP's movies were flops.

There're actually 3 things in common that shared in this and his previous successful movie, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow in the same year. Apart from Jackie Chan, and Yuen Woo-ping, they're both action comedy.

Indeed, Jackie Chan was trained in Peking Opera, which unlike Bruce Lee, was trained in the martial arts. And that training comes in handy when he applied slapstick in his movies. Comedy in Peking Opera is very acrobatic and physical. Indeed, Jackie Chan does acrobatics rather than kungfu, especially in later movies (ok, to be exact, every martial actor does dancing in movies). Not that there's anything wrong with that in terms of entertainment.

In fact, Liu Chia-Liang, who, like Bruce Lee, had extensive martial arts training. Despite that background, he chose the same route as Jackie Chan in comedy action, instead of being the serious kungfu infallible hero like Bruce Lee.

So the Bruce Lee Effect is either making everyone wanting to be like him in the wave of Bruceploitation, or as unlike him as possible. In fact, Jackie Chan had gone down both path. Thus, after Lee, comedy action flicks outnumber serious action by many times. Whereas before Bruce Lee, martial arts movies had virtually no slapstick whatsoever.

Let's pause and think about this. When Bruce Lee arrived at the HK movie scene, he punched the swordplay genre in the guts so heavy that it was hospitalised over a decades. And at the same time, he created a brand new martial arts genre single-handedly. And just when you think the HK film industry was once again free from his influence because he have died, think again. For almost a decade since his death, huge number of movies were made in one way or another connected to his name. And even Jackie Chan, and Chiang Chia-Liang decided to go a different path because of him. In short, Bruce continued to change the direction of the martial arts genre beyond the grave. Woah!!! Or should it be....Muahahahahhh!!!!! (in the ghostly echoes).

And he only appeared in 4 movies. Quality, not quantity that counts.

This movie cemented Jackie Chan's acting identity as the comedy action martial artist.

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